Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Voices in the Bus

The next passenger to sit by her side was an old man with rags for clothes and dead mice for breath and Lydia swore to herself to ignore the stranger.

“So where are you going now?” he asked. I guess you finally took my advice to bring that child to your parents in the province. It’s about time…”

He was referring to Becky, 4 years old, the little girl sleeping in Lydia’s lap. She had expended all her energy crying the whole day. She asked for food, begged for water. Pulled Lydia’s hair and even peed on her lap but her mother wouldn’t say a thing. Even now, while already reeking of urine, her eyes were transfixed into the distance and while occasionally she would smile, Lydia’s eyes wouldn’t stray from whatever it is she was looking at, which seemed far and away and unreachable.

But the old man was persistent. “That child has not seen her grandparents, in fact, not a single one of your relatives. You wouldn’t like her to grow up a stranger to her own family don’t you? Lovely child. I bet she tastes good.”

He licked his chops at the mention of the last words and Lydia fought the terror creeping into her with pretended outrage. “Back off, you ugly beast!” she screamed, startling the other passengers as well as the driver himself who accidentally sent the bus into a throttle. But immediately they pretended not to hear a thing. They all knew the woman sitting at the farthest seat in the back had a serious problem. It's just that there's nothing they can do about it.

Lydia on the other hand, knew the people in that bus are aware of her condition, but they just pretend not to care. She had actually seen the old man before. In the bedroom at the stroke of midnight while she slept with Medel. At the hospital while she was giving birth to Becky and the whole time during her confinement at the ward. Lydia struggled to get hold of herself screaming anew. “You are not real. You are just a figment of the imagination. Stay away from me”. She was shocked at the suddenness of her recollection of the entry in the doctors’ notes, which she only read once and in great hurry one time while she was lucid during the time the doctor inadvertently left his papers at Lydia’s bedside at the ward in Mandaluyong. She regretted why she escaped. Medel would be mad at this that’s for sure.

A headless woman walked through the aisle, her bloody skirt brushing Lydia lightly in the knees jolting her and the old man let out an eerie laugh, forked tongue wagging in the air. He was drooling. Craving for the sleeping child. The passengers looked and seemed normal except for the horns that suddenly appeared on their heads. As soon as they reached the next bus stop, Lydia jumped out and scampered into the night.

It was not until ten months later that Medel finally found his wife wandering aimlessly along the highway in Lucena. A walking naked skeleton of a human being covered with filth and grease. She was totally incoherent and violent and in permanent conversation with her ghosts about how the devil ate her child.

1 comment:

christina said...

love this! you have an amazing writing voice :)